How to Choose an HVAC Certification Course near Winfield Alabama
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next action is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Winfield AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you choose the ideal one to receive the training that you need? Some future students will make their decision based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. While these are relevant considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few of the other things that you need to research are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and other criteria will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to choose an HVAC technical school, let’s look at what a heating and a/c contractor does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Technician in Winfield AL
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the business that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, though each state and local municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not required, but a voluntary means for Winfield AL HVAC specialists to prove that they are exceptionally qualified and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are multiple respected certifications within the industry that are offered. Here are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency examination and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing might be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to earn certification, it’s important that you choose an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the program you select prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses
There are a variety of alternatives offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum period of time, usually accomplished in just 6 months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each option offered near Winfield AL.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more extensive background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally taking two years to finish, a number of degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC is geared more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the appropriate credential program will be based on what your future career aspirations are, together with the time and money that you have to commit. One possibility is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Winfield AL, later returning to acquire a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Attending an HVAC program online is one alternative in getting your education and earning a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be participated in on the web, this alternative may be a more practical solution for many Winfield AL students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional options. Even driving expenses from Winfield and study supplies may be reduced, helping to make education more economical. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family obligations have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your active schedule.
Questions For HVAC Training Programs near Winfield AL
As soon as you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you desire to obtain, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Winfield AL area and all over the Country to pick from. That’s why it is imperative to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school assessments. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first two aspects you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC trade schools in the Winfield AL area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school’s programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you acquire a superior education, it can assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, some states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate may suggest that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It might also indicate that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It’s also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which can mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Winfield AL HVAC employers to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC training programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Winfield AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Winfield AL HVAC contracting company if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Winfield AL residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s important that you receive as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Speak to some of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with some of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Winfield AL, confirm that the programs you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Attending HVAC School near Winfield AL?
Winfield is a small city situated in Northwest Alabama 26 miles (42 km) east of the Mississippi state line. It lies in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountain range which stretches from the deep South all the way to Maine. Long before the earliest settlers arrived, Indian tribes hunted in the forest and fished in the streams and along and around Winfield. The town was originally called "Needmore", but when it was incorporated in either 1887 or 1891, the name was changed to Winfield in honor of General Winfield Scott. This area was once the Chickasaw Indian domain. Although there were no known Indian settlements within the county, several sites were maintained as hunting camps.
Winfield is located in southern Marion County at 33°55′42″N 87°48′29″W / 33.92833°N 87.80806°W / 33.92833; -87.80806 (33.928258, -87.807990), with a portion extending south into Fayette County. U.S. Route 43 passes through the city, leading northwest 6.5 miles (10.5 km) to Guin and south 18 miles (29 km) to Fayette. Hamilton, the Marion County seat, is 20 miles (32 km) northwest via US 43.
Winfield has a subtropical climate characterized by hot, humid summers, mild winters, and abundant rainfall during the late winter and spring. January sees average daily high temperatures of 53.0 °F (11.7 °C) and lows of 31.8 °F (−0.1 °C). In July, the average daily high is 90.6 °F (32.6 °C), and the low is 69.2 °F (20.7 °C). Snowfall is infrequent in the area, with a yearly average of 0.5 inches (12.7 mm). The average yearly rainfall in Winfield is about 52 inches (1,300 mm), with March being the wettest month and October the driest.
Choose the Right HVAC Training Course near Winfield AL
Finding the right HVAC training program is a crucial beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling field. As we have discussed in this article, you should pick a technical school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other features to look for are plenty of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling options and whether evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don’t forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our checklist for comparing schools, you’ll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Winfield AL.
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